Giannis Antetokounmpo admits East playoffs have been easier without LeBron

Giannis Antetokounmpo Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks ended the Boston Celtics' season in embarrassing fashion with a 4-1 series win in the second round.

The Milwaukee Bucks have not been to the Eastern Conference finals since 2001. Indiana Pacers head coach Nate McMillan said that James going West gave "renewed optimism" to the East.

It's a mindset Antetokounmpo told ESPN on Thursday he wasn't quite ready for.

While Giannis Antetokounmpo acknowledges that LeBron James' departure opened up the East, that fact should not diminish what the Bucks have accomplished.

"I didn't see it as open", Antetokounmpo said.

"He tried to distract me at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter and I knew how to go back at him but stay focused on what I needed to do".

The Bucks have beaten the Detroit Pistons and Celtics, and they now have a 1-0 lead over the Toronto Raptors.

In addition to the Bucks, the Toronto Raptors also made a huge splash by acquiring All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard in the offseason and finishing with 58 wins and the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.

It just so happens that their ascendance coincided with the end of the James era.

And asked about the two-time Finals MVP in his post-game media conference, Kerr said: "It's a little more serious than we thought at the beginning". It's both a product of good timing and a testament to how much Milwaukee has advanced in just one season.

But it should be of no slight to the Bucks if they are able to make it out of a highly competitive Eastern Conference to contend for an National Basketball Association title.

Emphasising that engagement of the NBA Playoffs continues to heighten as the narrative of the postseason unfolds, Pete Watt, Oddschecker International PR Executive told InsiderSport: "As one of the four major U.S. sports, it's no surprise to see that punters have been extremely interested in the NBA Playoffs, and we can see in the data that the volume of bets placed on the winner's market has remained fairly consistent over the past few months".